The latest detective on the crowded juvenile scene is ten-year-old Phoebe Danger-field, who shortened her name for her newspaper ad because she couldn't afford the extra line. As Phoebe isn't blessed with sharp eyes, she relies on her reluctant assistant Dash, who would rather be bird-watching but sticks around in hope of financing a new pair of binoculars. Their first case deals with a stolen cough medicine bottle, a 1902 collectible and the only one of its kind, which Mrs. Willington had been safe-keeping for her traveling sister. Mr. Willington, an avid collector himself, arrives home from Peru indignant that two ten-year-olds are investigating; but on his wife's request, he compromises and gives them three hours to solve the case. Well, clues just fall into their hands as the kids dash around town to meet the deadline, and soon Phoebe announces that Mr. W. was not in Peru last night at all, but staying at a local hotel and robbing his own house. As Phoebe notes, "for someone who likes to read mysteries [Mr. Willington] left a pretty clear trail. She mused on his happening to drop both the receipt [for a locally purchased Peruvian artifact] and the key to the Beaumont Hotel." She might also muse on his undisguised alarm or relief as the kids get hot or cold on the trail--a clear tip-off to readers, though apparently missed by Dash and Phoebe. The case itself is pretty heavy-handedly contrived, then, though Fleischman keeps the kids in motion and the tone light--and Apple's winning touch adds considerable appeal.